Bad Kitty Syndrome II
Having previously written about behavior problems with kitties and then participating recently in a seminar about the same, I thought I would share some ideas. Most of us cat owners keep our cats mostly or exclusively indoors. While this is much safer for them, this environment is a little more mundane than outside, so we need to provide some other entertainment for our fuzzy friends.
Cats are hunters, so things they are motivated to find plays into this experience. A simple thing to do is to get a hold of the smallest Dixie cups you can find and put 3-5 kernels of dry cat food or 1-2 treats into a dozen or so cups and place them in inconspicuous places throughout the house.
This will work better if you restrict their food intake and make this part of their daily allotment … say set it out in the morning and don’t offer food until dinnertime. This is like a puzzle for them and also simulates hunting, as the cat needs to “hunt them out” to get food. Also, there are several types of puzzle feeders that require some manipulation of the food in order to get it out.
Some are rather complex but you can make a simple one with a 9x13” foil baking pan that has a clear plastic lid (you can also use a larger tupperware-type container). Cut a cat-head-sized hole in one corner and then cut some slots that are 2 to 7 inches long and only a paw wide.
Then place one meal in the corner away from the head hole so they have to slide the food to the corner to get the food. Cat toys are a fun thing for kitties as well, but instead of having a whole bunch of toys out at once, only have a few out at a time and then change them every so often. Another thing that we overlook is that, believe it or not, kitties are smaller than we are so our big houses have a huge un-tapped resource for play… Go vertical!!!! Add in places that allow them to “climb the walls” like cat trees and towers or even solid shelving systems for them to move about the house without having to touch the floor!!
Some of these ideas can be a bit involved and expensive but some are quite easy to try. Doing these things will improve your cat’s quality of life and may help with some of the less desirable behaviors that we find less than amusing!!
Written By: Craig Evans, DVM